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Renovations
#11
"Alright Candy."
He turned to face her as she got her hackles up again, staring down at her as she got in his face. The kid was proving to be nothing but a wanna-be smartass and could voice nothing but bitching. When she was done with her little rant, there was almost a faint glimmer of amusement in his features; more of a dangerous glint then anything jovial, but it was there all the same. As was his anger, back to a slow simmer. He stepped in closer.

He raised his hand in front of her face in a fist, then brought up one finger at a time. "One. Safe house. I keep it safe. If I have to burn this safe house to cover your ass, your superiors will not be happy. Two. My safe house. I keep it safe. Your attitude causes me to have to burn this place to keep your pack of monster hunting cultists in the clear, your ass will be in here when I throw the match. Three. You clean up your own mess while living in my house. I clean up my own. Four. Get your own beer."


When he got to five, he lowered his fingers and turned his hand so he was flipping her the bird, "Five. Enunciate."
He flashed her a toothy grin that was entirely not friendly in nature, then flicked her on the forehead before stepping back. "When it comes to the hunt, consider me a hired specialist. Up to you to find what you're after. Up to you to decide how it all goes down. Up to me to help make sure you and your pretty little friend there take them down, and bring one back alive. I've already found a place to keep the damn thing, whatever the fuck you fanatics want it for."
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#12
Aria watched through her own fogged covered emotions. This was really the last thing she needed, but here she was standing outside a tin can waiting for the alpha's to finish their pissing contest. The man was nothing but cool emotion, nothing pushing it but even that felt like it was piercing her bubble like a hot knife through butter. He spoke calmly to Rune after seen Aria standing on the street, "Like I said, Aggressive Salmon. Cot in the living room. Shelf in the fridge. Market back the way you came. Grand tour to start now."

The events that unfolded didn't play well with Aria's emotional state. By the time they had made their way aggressively in to the so-called-safe-house Aria was ready to drown in loud music, a bath tub or under her bed, which ever was closest.

Aria only caught snippets of their conversation, she was too busy keeping their bravado from overturning what precious control she had left. They exchanged insults. They exchanged blows. Neither one wanted to back down.

Aria made her way slowly to the door, she really didn't want to get too close, but she really needed to put her things down and to get some sort of sanity back in her day. Today was just a major issue for her. She wished she could just start all over. It had been one of those days.

Aria got to the front door just in time to see Rune fly into the unfinished drywall. At least it wasn't cold hard metal as the outside was. It could look to be a good place given enough time. Aria hoped that she wouldn't be here to see that day. She really didn't like the idea of staying with these to for long. They fought and Aria tried to pay attention to everything but them. It wasn't grand, but it would do.

Aria spied the two cots and slowly walked over to one and dropped the large box and her bag on top of it. She took a deep breathe as she heard their host explain, "whatever the fuck you fanatics want it for." Aria tried not to let her anger rise, she was not a fanatic, the society might be, all Aria wanted to do was hunt the monsters, the rest was up to others, she didn't care what they did, or why they did it. Aria pulled off the sword belts from her shoulders and carefully laid the blades down before turning back towards the fight. Aria spoke quietly the first time, but apparently they didn't hear her through their own noise. She spoke up. She didn't quiet yell, but it hurt her head none-the-less, "If ya'll are done with the pissing contest. I'd like a bath if you've got one."
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#13
She tilted her face back as though to get away from Cuddles’ fist or perhaps to tilt her chin defiantly. Behind the black liner and beneath the fluffy curls of her lashes were a pair of rather plain, but hardened eyes. Callously watching the condescending counting. She wanted to scream or hit him or something, but she stood there and took it. It was like swallowing battery acid, and she winced when he flicked her forehead, grinned a viperous grin, and made to explain himself.

Rune ground her molars, and the tendons in her throat rolled with tension. She was furious, but somehow kept it under control. By the grace of everything Uncle Seth taught her. She kept it under control...

Then Aria came in. Rune recognized her immediately, if not for the weapons the girl so insanely carried in the open like some crazy cosplayer... Of course, Rune was one to talk, but punk rock girls hiding in the spotlight can get away with a lot of crazy stuff because people like to jump to conclusions. But Aria was shy if anything, timid and withdrawn. Someone like that who saunters about with folded swords and wild west revolvers was going to stick in people’s memories. And Rune didn’t live the life she did so she could be on the cover of superhero magazine. She did it to keep people safe. So other kids could grow up with their mothers around. She didn't want people to remember her.

Rune kept Aria in her periphery, but her fury slithered into pure shock at the girl’s request.

”A bath?!” Rune exclaimed. ”Did you not hear what he said?!” Cultists?! Fanatics?! He thinks we’re a joke. Rune turned back to Hood, the temper in her voice rising steadily.

”You think all this is a joke?! That we’re gamers who can’t get off on first person shooters anymore so we take to the streets?! Go ahead and insult us. But you know nothing.” She tsk’d a disgusted sort of sound, then glared at Aria. Simply because the girl wasn’t taking a stand. You’re an Atharim Hunter! Be strong!

But she was only taking her frustration with this cocky bastard out on Aria, who was probably the smarter of the pair of them to not ruffle the man’s feathers. She was also taking out her frustration that he’d so easily taken her to the cleaners. But Rune didn’t care. She wasn’t going to let him intimidate her, even if he could smoke her one on one.

”Let her have her bath, you can give us the tour later. We won’t leave until after dark.” She turned back to the door, ”I’m going to go buy some real beer.” She kicked the discarded bottle from before out of the way of the door and left. Let him spit insults their way all he wants, but not at the Atharim.

She was gone about half an hour only to return with a six-pack of PBR cans dripping with condensation, one of which was missing from the plastic rings, and a duffel bag slung across her shoulders.

She landed on the patio, dumped the heavy bag on the ground and sat on the first step, popped a second can open and chugged.
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#14
Rune turned her wrath on Aria and Aria just stared at her with no emotions. Even if she had any left to give there was little hope in talking the raging bull down from the precipice. And Aria really didn't care what he thought of people. She didn't care what people thought of her. She'd been a side show freak since the day she came to the Atharim's gaze. It had been her life since infancy and the emotions of others always gave way more than what they said. And anger was hardly worth the massive breakdown Aria was currently fighting off. Rune turned her ire on their host again and pretty much stormed out of the house.

Aria wished she could have told their host not to mind Rune, and she'd be over it when she returned, but sadly Aria didn't know Rune more than she did him. Aria hoped her first impression would be far better than Rune's had been for him, but then she doubted he'd remember much of this day's encounter other than fighting the "aggressive salmon".

The room was quiet and Aria hadn't properly introduced herself. She didn't extend her hand but she nodded a friendly hello. "I'm Aria." Aria tossed her head in the direction Rune had vacated the premise, "That was Rune." She smiled, "Before you get the wrong idea, I only just met her today."

Aria glanced around what he considered the living room and smiled, "About that bath?" Aria hoped that there was a proper tub a shower wouldn't really help much other than washing the grime of travel away.
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#15
As soon as Aria spoke up, Hood dismissed Rune's offended ranting and raving and let her storm out for her beer. They both were odd ducks, but at least Aria hadn't come in guns-a-blazing like Candy. The moment the girl stormed out the door he flashed Aria what could almost past as an amused grin, then stepped to the door to call after Rune, "Rule Six. Close the door."
The kid was too easily riled up, especially considering she was the one that came in swinging.

He shut the door on any comment she might have regarding him and his rules, then fixed Aria with a long look. Swords? Really? He couldn't deny the usefulness of a good knife, but full on swords seemed a bit much. As did wearing them in public. She seemed a bit worse for wear; stressed maybe. But she wasn't bitching at him, so there seemed to be no need for a display of force.

"Mr White. Aria is it? Was that so hard? Cordial. Professional. That friend of yours needs to learn when to keep her attitude in check, or she's going to get herself in a lot of trouble."
She'd already claimed a cot, and the tour could wait till the princess was back, so he wouldn't have to do it twice. He crossed the living room and pushed open a door; the bathroom was one of the only rooms that was, indeed, finished. Out of necessity; the humidity could damage the walls and electrical. It wasn't anything lavish, but should meet her requirements.

He didn't offer to shake hands; didn't see it as much of a necessity, all things considered. "Towels under the sink. Laundry room through there. Knock yourself out."
And with that he crossed to the kitchen for an apple whiel Aria squared herself away with the washroom and a bath.

By the time Rune made her way back, Hood was visible in the garage, where he was inspecting the garage door, which was only recently installed. Anywhere the frame was attached to wooden beams, he installed steel mesh for added strength and to discourage the wood from splitting. Since most of the building's outer walls were the steel frames of the sea-cans, the weakest points were of course the doors and windows, hence the added bracing.

He left Rune alone for a bit, letting her enjoy her 'beer' in silence. Since there hadn't been any sign of Aria yet, and no tell-tale sounds of movement coming from the open door between the garage and the living room, she might not have finished in the washroom yet, meaning it wasn't time for the grand tour or for the two Atharim to explain their plans.
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#16
Maybe it was the beer. Maybe it was the walk. Maybe it was finally checking out of a hotel and knowing she could come back to the same place night after night: though if that place in question was here she wasn't sure if that was such a good thing or not.

But she wasn’t so flaming-hot mad now. Leaning back against the steps as she was, elbow cocked on the step behind her, she stretched out completely oblivious to the dirt getting all over the back of her pants ... or more likely, she was aware but simply didn't care. She’d even gone so far as to shove the sleeves of her jacket up to her elbows and stare into the sun. There was almost nothing better than lounging like that, except maybe unless it were similarly stretched out on the hood of a car... with a cooler handy.

So she felt better but she couldn't forget the way he said fanatics, like the Atharim weren't important, weren't needed. If he only knew... Maybe he didn't know. Maybe she was assuming he was more than what he was. She squinted thoughtfully, Exactly who are you..?

She was totally going to get back at Cuddles the first chance she got of course. It was more of there being a deficit between the two of them that she intended to set straight rather than an actual grudge. Besides, she’d discovered a nasty bruise capping her shoulder when she stopped at a pit-stop restroom where she could take off her jacket (and reveal the shoulder holsters) in the privacy of a bathroom stall. Her hip fared no better.

A gust of wind blew over the empty PBR can. The aluminum rattled as it toppled and rolled off first off the step then along the ground a couple of paces. She started at it, wondering if and when it was ever going to halt, but Rune did no more about the piece of trash than the dogs sleeping under the porch. She simply didn’t care. At least not enough to get up from her extremely good spot.

Where she had an excellent view of Hood. Pounding away at who knows what along the garage door. She hadn’t offered a sign of greeting. Nor do much else besides the fact that she was obviously watching him. There was a good deal of suspicion to her, but like that empty can, she didn’t seem interested enough to get up and do something about it.

Except open a third can.

Then her Wallet dinged. Immediately, Rune twisted her hips around and whipped the Tech from a pocket on the back of her cargo pants before returning to her previous position. She swiped her hands on her thighs, wet from holding the beading-cold beer, and punched up the message.

It was what she’d been waiting for.

The last Atharim to go after this pack of Roogies had turned up, well... actually he never turned up again. They’d finally tracked down enough leads to put two and two together, people who saw this combined with video tapes of that... well, the guy probably had his heart ripped out, but his Wallet kept on beating. Until the signal was lost three levels underground. The news Rune had been waiting for was the last known location of that signal. From there, she was absolutely confident she’d be able to track the scent of violence back to its source: the pit these Roogies were holed up in.

A swaggering grin touched her lips, and Rune called out to Hood to give him the news. ”Getcha good boots, Cuddles, cause we’re goin’ underground come dark. You’re bound to get those nice pants a yours dirty.” With a brace and twist, Rune slipped the Wallet in her back pocket once more, then laid back, hefted the can and saluted the bastard. Then mumbled, ”dickface.”
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#17
Aria was thankful that there was no confrontation and when he pushed open the door to reveal the washroom, she was trilled to see the small yet functional tub. It wasn't the need to get clean that drove the need to soak in the tub. Aria quickly plugged the tub and turned on the water, she made sure to turn both on, but the hot only enough to take the chill off. Then she made her way towards her things and grabbed a clean set of clothes. No point in staying dirty even if that wasn't the goal.

Aria closed the door behind her, but she didn't lock it. One too many times her handlers would bust in on her while she was under the water, and many time they yanked her out of the water making things worse. New handlers always were the worst, but she didn't want to give her new temporary roommates the wrong impression.

When the water was filled enough to submerge in the water Aria shut the water off and nearly climbed in full clothed. It wouldn't have mattered either way, but it's hard to wash with clothes on. Her head ached and Aria only took her jeans off before climbing in. She didn't care at this point. The water was cold but it felt good. Aria submerged herself in the water. The silence and the dampening of everything did wonders on her control.

Aria quickly ran through the mental exercise to gain an empty mind void of all emotions. Then she resurfaced for air before going back into the water. Aria could have stayed in the water for much longer, but it was not hers and there were monsters to hunt. Aria quickly removed the soaked clothes and hung them over the edge after a good ringing before the customary scrubbing was started and quickly finished. Aria didn't know how much time had passed, and she wasn't sure it really mattered. She felt better and it was good to be back in what was considered control.

Aria pulled on her clean set of clothes and tossed her hair into a towel before letting dry in the air. She found the laundry and started a load, she hoped she remembered to get it out. Aria wasn't about to be a bad roommate on her first shot through.

When she got done, there was no one in the living room. She sat down on her cot and pulled out her wallet and started flipping through things to figure it out. Once she got the basic understanding she searched the news records both from recent history and those going back several years. "6 ought to do it", she muttered to herself. She pulled out any records of deaths matching the rougarou MO and she pulled out all rape cases. Aria threw all the articles she'd found up into the air and with a grin she started looking for a pattern.

Aria heard Rune shout at Mr. White through the unfinished walls. Did she dare poke her head out? She didn't want to be bombarded with more of their shit. But she had a job to do. Aria pulled in the holos and poked her head out the door, remembering his parting comment for Rune and shut the door after her. "I take you got a lead?" She hadn't actually heard what Rune had said and hoped that was the case.
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#18
Hood stopped what he was doing, polite enough to give Candy his attention for her short speel. About time they got things sorted out on their end. Sooner this was over, the sooner the brat would move on. She was a tough one, sure, probably a result of her attitude. Maybe it was a learning disability? Or maybe she was a masochist? But they usually had more piercings. Her under the breath muttering, while muffled, was obvious enough by her tone. He didn't catch the exact words of choice, but could extrapolate well enough.

Aria stepped out, and again demonstred the two were like night and day in their attitudes. Probably some major differences between how the two were brought up. Hood opted not to make a comment, instead just pulling the garage door closed, then he walked over to and picking up the errant can of 'beer.' He frowned at the label; PBR, the beer of hipsters, a blight of the early 21st century that had somehow managed to hang on even into the '40s. It made no sense; PBR had gone main stream ages ago, and all hipsters seemed to drink the crap, so why the hell did they still do it? Pretentious twits.

The can was set neatly on the step, sandwhiched between the bottles of Alexander Kieths he had been drinking earlier, where it wouldn't likely blow away. "Rule 3. Clean up your own messes. I'm not asking much of you, am I kid? One of the locals helps themself to any recyclables left on the step. They need the money, so be considerate. Now, tour."


He climbed the steps past her and stepped around Aria to lead the way back into the house. In the living room there were few details to point out, save one. He tapped the wall next to a light switch for the kitchen, nestled on the wall between kitchen and bathroom, "Here. Punch through the drywall. There's a pipe with a handle. Pull the handle. Diverts gas from the oven, vents it into the walls. Pull the handle to let the gas out, then next to it is a green cylinder with a pin. Pull the pin down, it's on a spring. Let go. It'll ignite a thirty-second length of time fuse. Thirty seconds, a detonator goes off. Ignites the gas. Burns the place out."


He gestured to the right of the kitchen and the closed door there, "That will be a spare bedroom. Currently storing tools, wood, and drywall. You can move your cots in there, but lots of sawdust in the air, and isn't insulated. Your call."


Next he led the way into a narrow storage room between the laundry room and bedroom, and slid a few boxes out of the way. A floor board was lifted out and set aside, revealing a metal trap door which was lifted to reveal the hidden sea-can beneath the house. "This is the armoury and bolt-hole. Access to some defunct service tunnels, which eventually lead into the main tunnels and sewer lines. Motion sensors and CCTV cameras monitor the tunnel. The trap door into the tunnel is rigged HME (home made explosives), enough to frag whoever is trying to come up. I'll show you how to disarm that later. Not far from here is a sub-basement from one of the old apartment blocks, and is still accessible from the tunnels. That's where you can keep your rougarou friend once we deal with them."


Then he dropped down the hole, flicking a switch to bring the lights on. "The sensors and cameras are motion sensitive; they pick up anything, the alarm panel upstairs will flash blue. Internet here is secure. Even if they track it, it'll land them at an apartment six hundred meters away. That's where main reuter is. Laser comm feed between the reuter here and that one, almost untraceable unless they find the emmiter. For future reference, Wallets can be tracked, if someone is bothering to look for you."
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#19
Rune shrugged indifferently while the empty beer can was wedged between the AK bottles. She stared at their logo for a second, wondering what the animal technically was. It kind of looked like a big deer? Or moose? Or maybe it was a caribou? She wasn't entirely sure what the difference between those last two was anyway.

She shoved herself up, threw the remaining three cans under one arm and hefted her duffel bag over the other all the while hanging on to her current drink. As Hood pushed past Aria, and Aria was in the door, Rune lingered a second or two behind. Then when she thought they wouldn't see, she chugged the last few gulps of PBR and placed the can with the little stash of recyclables. There was no point letting the high and mighty saintly killer Cuddles see her compliance. But if people could use the money....

She dropped her bag near the remaining cot and set the three beer cans atop careful to make sure they were secure. Dropped beer cans just made for bad karma later on. The kind that got beer sprayed all over your face. But that wasn't the whole of it. Instead, she was using the ruse as a means to pull out a stake sharpened from the wood of a Quillaja tree, a native to Chile with the handle carved with commands in Huilliche, the native speech of the Mapuche peoples. She slipped the stiletto of wood into one of the deep pockets along her thigh, well within easy reach Also called "soapbark," it was one of several specialized "tools" Rune hauled around on her travels. This one in particular had been blessed and marked with carvings by a Kalku, a medium of that ancient people with the mystic knowledge to manipulate wefuke.

Then she followed.

Ok. So it was kind of like the most remarkable safe house Rune had ever seen. Yah she'd met a few Hunters along the road. Yah they had all their ducks in a row, but this guy's ducks were like pterodactyls, and they weren't just in a row, they were synchronized swimming.

By the time the tour landed Hood a level down, Rune was wary once more. All the suspicion and curiosity of before had distilled down to an instinctive concern which simmered just under her surface. The way he moved, the way he ordered her about. It was all a little extra-corporeal. She had to wonder, Are you human? and she thought about that stake in her pocket.

Determined to find out, she dropped down into the hole right after him, landing solidly on her feet. She quietly checked out the locations of the emergency exit and the lay of the place. If she weren't so hell-bent on being suspicious, she'd be salivating over his armory. Call cynicism a curse of the job.

She glanced at Aria when he seemed to be done. "Thankfully, Wallets can be tracked." She said, and used a second while Hood was turned away to slip the stake, only a few inches long, not much longer than a pencil, in her hand with the point up the sleeve of her jacket. Enough that it was hidden by her palm, and she did the best she could to let her arm hang naturally.

She approached Hood, walking toward, then turning to walk around him. Her eyes were narrowed onto his while she talked as though trying to see past his exterior. Wefuke, the spirit born of ancient Chilean legend, project their energy away from that of the world, and were the same spirits which possessed her mother when Uncle Seth killed her. Yah, Rune knew about the specifics of her birth, she also knew it was those circumstances that had a hand in her .. abilities.

She'd always been able to smell wrongness, violence, and crime on the air. But the spirit world was something else. Uncle Seth had never heard of anyone who was both furia and something else, but Rune was apparently. Because of that she could see the ghosts, spirits and demons haunting about, but wefuke were special. It was like they were out of phase with substance itself, a direct disturbance in the world's natural order, whereas a ghost, well, they were natural.

"Cause," she said, taking in the flat, humorless gaze of this man's expression, unafraid to come within striking distance. "We're gonna use the signal from a Wallet to trace these Roogies back home 'n crash their lil' party."

She glanced over her shoulder at Aria, hoping the woman was catching on and wouldn't blow Rune's cover... or at least that she recognized the specialized weapon Rune was hiding. However, wefuke were an essence of the Americas, and Rune knew that side of the world best. It was entirely possible Aria had no idea what Rune was about to do. But she had to do it. She had to be sure Hood was on their side.

She figured she'd only get one shot at this. Hood liked his personal space after all, he may not let her back into it ever again if she was wrong; she wasn't quite sure how she felt about that. If she was right, well, she and Aria were going to have to kill him, unfortunately for Cuddles.

Suddenly, she let the stake fall to her grip and swung, not needing to stab or kill, just make enough contact to scratch him. A single scratch to a body possessed by wefuke, and the sizzle from the wound would give it away.

From there, well, hopefully Aria had her back.
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#20
The tour was nothing special, but the house was all sorts of unique. Aria especially liked the bomb made from the walls. It was a perfect cover if things went bad. When they dropped into the lower tin can Aria felt even more like a tuna in water than before. The image of a baby tuna nestled in a tin can with one of those rollback pins nestled up to the baby's neck. The Vatican archives were full of hunteresque things, and then things that were not. Cartoons were one of Aria's favorite things to steal a peek at when she was little. Even now and then as she grew older.

Rune acted sucpisoulsy, she was carrying weapons meant to do harm to the monsters they hunted. Surely she didn't think their host was one of them. He was normal by all accounts that she could tell. But he also hadn't killed anyone recently. Death was one thing that stuck to a person, it never completely faded but for Mr. White nothing was recent enough to suspect. There were all sorts in the society, maybe Rune had some other ability she was unaware of. But it didn't matter, Aria didn't have her guns, nor her swords with her. She hadn't even bothered to pick up her pocket knife before heading in the hole with these two. Maybe that was poor thinking on her part, but really you had to trust someone, sometime, and Aria chose now to do so. Naive maybe, but it was her choice.

Aria watched to see what unfolded as Rune flung the special stake at Mr. White. There was no good outcome for this. If he was any one of them, they'd have to kill it in the confines of their tuna can. If he wasn't, then another fight would ensue. Aria wished she had her guns. If all was well Aria was ready to step between them, they had a job to do. If he was a monster Aria prepared for the hand to hand fight. He was stronger, much stronger and Aria prayed that he was going to be forgiving of Rune's action. Only moments would pass and the decisions had to be made.
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